For quite some time our homeschooling days have felt “off” as we’ve struggled daily to find a natural rhythm. I’ve suspected it was the schedule we were keeping, but wasn’t sure what to do about it.
And then it happened…we woke up one weekend morning only to realize that a pipe between our kitchen and bathroom walls had burst causing extensive water damage to our home. And just like that, we had to pack up our four young sons and move out while repairs were made.
Without any planning, our schedule changed in an instant.
We had no idea how challenging the next six weeks would prove to be for our family or that the answers to our homeschooling struggles would be wrapped up in the circumstances ahead . Living in a one bedroom (with partial kitchen) apartment during that time was hard enough, but trying to homeschool on top of that was disastrous. I didn’t have all of our “things”…our books and papers, my beloved printer, our large kitchen table to spread out on or the back yard to take breaks in. Add to that a crew of boys who are used to playing hard and being loud and I felt like I was the constant nagging shush-er, for fear of getting complaints and kicked out of our apartment. After all, there were respectful volume levels and quiet hours to adhere to in the strict rules listed on our temporary housing lease agreement. I felt very defeated.
So, I prayed and trusted God for wisdom as I abandoned our school schedule and threw caution to the wind. Instead of struggling with my boys to get our lessons done, I decided we’d just live each day however that day needed to be lived…however God led us. And lead us, He did. In the natural process of needing to get out of our apartment each day to let my boys get exercise , I realized something HUGE!
My boys still craved their “school time”. In fact, they love to learn, but I had always confined their school lessons to a typical school day schedule when what they really needed was to be active and physical during the day so they could actually focus and do their school work when it best worked for them…in the late afternoons and evenings.
So, we’ve fully embraced the concept of “Night School” for our children and here is why:
1. One of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to do what works best for your family. I was stressing every day over a routine that just wasn’t working for us. We’ve been trying for years now to rise early, eat breakfast, do our school work and then have the afternoons to do other things. Truth is…we like to take our time in the morning, so taking the morning as it comes has made for a much more peaceful start to our days.
2. Once that morning fog lifts, my guys are ready to…NOT SIT DOWN AND DO SCHOOL WORK. There’s a world out there waiting to be conquered, so they want to get out in it and be active. The constant struggle to try and get them to sit and focus certainly doesn’t honor their natural bent. When we get outside and play, they burn their energy FIRST which enables them to focus better LATER.
3. As a homeschooling mom, I’ve always fought for the time to have my quiet time with God in the mornings. With a more casual start to our day, I am better able to make the time for this, even when my children are already awake.
4. As a part time work-from-home mom, night schooling allows me to also work on my writing projects a little more easily throughout the day as time permits.
5. Because I’m not pushing them to fit into a mold that doesn’t work for them, there is less bickering between our boys.
6. Another benefit of homeschooling later in the day is the ability to run errands, make doctor’s appointments, and plan more outings without the feeling that it is cutting into our school time.
7. Homeschooling in the evenings lets us take FULL advantage of being outside more. We tend to be of the opinion that school can occur wherever we choose. So, organizing our time in a way that allows us to do more of our seat-work later in the day means we can include many of our hands-on activities and science experiments outside or wherever we happen to be.
8. A regular work-out routine has always been a struggle for this busy homeschooling mom. But now that our days are spent being more active, it allows me to be more intentional about my own health as well.
9. When I honor my children’s personalities and allow them to burn that energy during the day, our family time at night, when my husband comes home, is so much more fruitful. Before, he’d come home to the chaos of kids bouncing off the walls and fighting from all that pent up energy that wasn’t burned during the day AND a stressed out wife who had fought all day to get lessons taught. Family time was less than ideal. Now, he doesn’t feel like he’s always receiving our “left-overs.” Now he gets to participate in their learning. I try to plan the school work that I know he would enjoy doing with them for after dinner time. And sometimes, the bulk of our lessons are already completed by the time Dad arrives home, so family time is sweet either way.
10. I don’t worry about whether my boys will be able to function in the “real world” one day where college courses and most work scenarios take place between the hours of 9 and 5pm. Why? Because honestly, learning happens at all hours of the day, so I know they will be able to function and focus well during more traditional schedules down the road. They will adapt. But while they’re still young and still learning how to have self-control, night schooling gives them (and me) more balance than fighting a routine that doesn’t work for any of us.
Had it not been for the water disaster in our home, I don’t know if I ever would have thought of flipping our school schedule to a time that better fit the personalities and needs of our children. I also would not have thought that this kind of schedule would work for me either, but I know I operate best when there is peace in our home. And for this homeschooling family, night schooling does help promote more peace.
So, how are things going in your homeschooling world right now? Are you in need of a homeschooling schedule change? Part of the incredible beauty and privilege of homeschooling is the ability to do what works best for YOUR family.